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Arizona hires BYU’s AJ Steward to coach running backs

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arizona-wildcats-usc-trojans-uniform-colors-combination-helmet-pac12-football-2020-coronavirus Photo by Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Arizona Wildcats once again have a complete coaching staff, just in time for spring practice next month.

The program announced Friday that it had hired AJ Steward to be its running backs coach, filling the vacancy left by DeMarco Murray when he left to coach running backs at Oklahoma.

Steward spent the 2018-19 seasons with the BYU Cougars, where he oversaw a run game that averaged more than 150 yards per game each season. His first game with the Cougars was their 28-23 win at Arizona in Kevin Sumlin’s debut in which BYU ran for 183 yards and three TDs.

A former quarterback, wide receiver and tight end at Kansas, Steward has also coached at Rice. He inherits a running back corps that loses top man J.J. Taylor but returns four players (Gary Brightwell, Nathan Tilford, Darrius Smith and Michael Wiley) that each ran for at least 100 yards in 2019.

Steward is the fourth different running backs coach Arizona has had in as many years, following Murray, Clarence McKinney and Calvin Magee. He’s also the fourth new coach on staff for the 2020 season along with defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads, defensive line coach Stan Eggen and outside linebackers coach Andy Buh.

Arizona begins spring practice March 2, with its annual spring game scheduled for April 4.